The Bigger Empty
Saturday, Aug 26
The Bigger Empty wasn’t supposed to happen.
In 2014, Mike Felumlee went into the studio, joined by his longtime backing band, to record his new album—but this time, something was different. At some point, he realized, they’d stopped making a record, and had inadvertently started a new band.
After nearly ten years of serving as a live vehicle for Felumlee’s solo material, the newly-minted group released its debut EP, The Bigger Empty Vs. The Cloud, via Artistic Integrity Records in 2015, with a full-length album to follow. However, the addition of singer/pianist Amanda Mourdry fundamentally changed the group’s sound, leading Felumlee, drummer Kevin Baschen and bassist Reuben Baird to scrap the album and start over. Guitarist Tom Counihan joined in 2016, as the quintet focused its energies and braced for the future.
Musically, the band’s influences are relatively unsurprising: big feelings, loud guitars, shameless hooks. Residing somewhere between the cynical sincerity of the Replacements and the dreamy melodicism of Nada Surf, with a sort of earnest cheekiness that falls somewhere between Superchunk and Superdrag, The Bigger Empty are part of the long power-pop tradition of endeavoring to make sure the feelings don’t turn maudlin, the hooks don’t get saccharine, that all elements remain balanced; and the group’s remarkable success in this measure is no accident—it comes with experience.
In pulling together and forging their input into something greater than any one member, the band is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a testament to the power of learning through experience. Tellingly, the name of the band comes from a song inspired by Felumlee’s dog, Jet, who has a long history of running away. In the song, Jet finally gets to see the world, only to long for the world he knows. “Now that I’ve seen the bigger empty,” as the chorus explains, “home feels like home.”
While writing music is an inherently uncomfortable process, The Bigger Empty—the band that wasn’t supposed to happen, the creative outlet none of them knew was missing, this collective of lifelong musicians who have seen that world and all it has to offer—feels like home, too.
Come. Listen. Get comfortable.